TENI Host First Trans Awareness Conference For Educators In Ireland

Benefits of knowledge and training on gender identity are felt by schools, families and, most importantly, young people, says trans right group.

TENI conference

Young trans and gender non-conforming people in both primary and secondary school experience better outcomes when schools possess both the knowledge and the confidence to accommodate different gender identities in the classroom.

This was the central theme of a conference on “Transgender Awareness” held jointly by the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) and the Waterford Children and Young People’s Services Committee (CYPSC) on Wednesday February 27.

Speaking ahead of the conference in the Tower Hotel, Waterford, TENI’s Health and Education Manager Vanessa Lacey said:

TENI’s approach to trans issues is a holistic one and includes advocating for legislative reform, improved health care outcomes, a compassionate educational environment and direct support for families. Facilitating a change in social attitudes to trans people and their families is also an integral part of this ‘wrap-around’ approach.”

The conference provided a forum for school authorities, principals, teachers, and school support personnel facilitating or planning to facilitate young trans and gender non-conforming people within schools or other educational facilities.

Highlighting the range of issues that were to be discussed, TENI’s Education and Family Support Officer Catherine Cross noted:

“The conference programme is designed to provide thought-provoking but also practical information to schools on issues which might impact on their ability to maintain a child in school during a period of social gender transition.”

“While school training visits from a central part of our education and family support approach, opportunities to engage in training and development of staff on these issues can be limited. More often than not, training must be provided within the confines of the monthly ‘Croke Park hour’, the only period available to schools to facilitate continuous professional development for staff,” she added.

Speakers at the conference included Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Aileen Murtagh, who discussed Gender Variance and Dysphoria: Associated Mental Health and Medical Issues; Dr Michael Redmond of the Joint Managerial Body for Voluntary Secondary Schools on Supporting Transgender Students at Secondary School – Pastoral, Ethos and Policy; and Dr Aoife Neary of the School of Education, University of Limerick, who will present the finding from her research – Gender transitions in Primary schools, the first report regarding the experiences of parents and teachers.

Funding for the conference was provided under the Healthy Ireland Framework 2013 – 2025, an initiative of the Department of Health.

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